Chinese state media have released a propaganda video that lambasts India over a border dispute, sparking accusations of racism.
The English-language clip, accusing India of committing “sins”, features a Chinese actor in a Sikh turban, speaking in a mock Indian accent.
Xinhua published the clip on Wednesday from a chat show discussing a border stand-off between the two countries.
It has been met with both bewilderment and anger in India, and amongst Sikhs.
What happens in the clip?
Titled “7 Sins of India”, the video stars female presenter, Dier Wang, who lists out China’s grievances against India in the ongoing border dispute in the Doklam area, which borders China, India and Bhutan.
It is the latest episode of an online series called The Spark, an English-language online chat show recently launched by Xinhua.
Speaking in an amused yet indignant tone, she accuses India of “trampling international law” and “inventing various excuses to whitewash its illegal moves”.
Her monologue is interspersed with dialogue from an “Indian”, depicted by a Chinese actor wearing a turban, sunglasses, and an obviously ill-fitting beard.
In what appear to be attempts at humour, he waggles his head and speaks English in an exaggerated Indian accent, amid canned laughter.
In another scene he points a pair of scissors at another actor who is supposed to represent Bhutan – a clear reference to the Chinese view that India is “bullying” the tiny Himalayan nation.
The video appears to be solely targeted at a foreign audience. It is delivered entirely in English and appears on Xinhua’s YouTube, Twitter and Facebook feeds – services which are banned in China.
Chinese reports say the online chat show aims to “comment on hot domestic and international topics from China’s perspective and with an international vision”.
Previous episodes have also focused on the stand-off and Sino-Indian relations, as well as relations with the US and President Donald Trump, but were more sober than this one.
What has been the reaction?
Indian news outlets have rounded on the video, slamming it as racist.
The Hindustan Times said Xinhua released “a racist video parodying Indians” which “particularly targets the Sikh minority”.
News portal The Quint said it was “yet another attempt by Chinese media to push its aggressive rhetoric on the stand-off”, while India Today accused Chinese media of going a “step further” in mocking India.
The UK-based Sikh Press Association said it was “sad to see just how low Chinese media have stooped in using Sikh identity as a pawn in their state propaganda against India,” pointing out that Sikhs make up less than 2% of India’s population.
The video also prompted criticism from social media users.
But it has also generated some debate on the Doklam stand-off, with many on Facebook arguing about which country has sovereignty over the disputed territory.
How did all this begin?
The conflict began in mid-June when India opposed China’s attempt to extend a border road through a plateau known as Doklam in India and Donglang in China.
The plateau, which lies at a junction between China, the north-eastern Indian state of Sikkim and the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan, is currently disputed between Beijing and Bhutan. India supports Bhutan’s claim over it.
- What’s behind the India-China Doklam border stand-off?
- Why border stand-offs between India and China are increasing
India and China fought a war over the border in 1962, and disputes remain unresolved in several areas, causing tensions to rise from time to time.
Each side has reinforced its troops and called on the other to back down.
On Wednesday, Indian officials said another border confrontation had flared up, this time in the Western Himalayas.